6 Ways to Recruit More Volunteers

If you’re a church that’s trying to grow, it’s really difficult to find enough volunteers to fuel the vision that God has given you. I know this because I’ve lived it. One of my first roles in the church I serve was the role of volunteer coordinator. I took on the role as we were transitioning from a small 2,000 square foot rental space to a 7,200 square foot permanent facility. The added space was awesome. We were going to be able to provide a much better worship experience; however, we also needed a lot more volunteers to make it happen, a position that many of you probably find yourself in.

During that time, I remember writing letters to 72 individuals in the church, sharing the pastor’s vision with them and how they could help us accomplish it.

Luckily, they all said yes, and once we moved into our new building, our church grew like crazy.

Today, the church I serve has close to 300 volunteers spread across two campuses. These volunteers may serve as much as every week or as little as once a month. They serve in the children’s ministry, in our café, in the parking lot, on the stage, and in countless other ways. And they’re a huge reason why our church has continued to grow.

I wish I could say we have plenty of volunteers, but the truth is when you have a big vision from God, you’ll probably never have enough volunteers. Just this week I received a message from a volunteer asking to be taken off the schedule because they’re now working on Sundays. Unfortunately, this sort of thing occurs all the time.

This is why, if you want your church to grow, you have to constantly be recruiting volunteers. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but I have learned some ways to make it easier.

  1. Create a culture of serving. I cannot emphasize this one enough. It’s imperative if you want to be successful. You need to create a culture were serving is the norm, and it’s not just something the spiritually elite do. It’s something everyone does because everyone has been called to serve. The first church I ever went to, I attended for three years, and no one ever asked me to serve. I was a young Christian passionate about serving and yet never got the opportunity. That should never happen.
  2. Offer opportunities and not needs. You have to be very careful about how you talk about serving. People respond to invitations and opportunities, but rarely do they respond to needs. You should never say, “We need more volunteers in the nursery.” You should say, “We have a great opportunity for someone to love on some babies, so their parents can hear God’s word.” A shift in your language can actually shift the culture. We don’t want people feeling like they’re guilted into serving. We want them to feel like they’re making a difference in someone’s life, because they are.
  3. Recruit in the lobby, not from the stage. Recruiting one on one is a lot more successful than making a plea from the stage. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask people to serve from the stage, but you should always combine it with personal conversations. Keep in mind, you shouldn’t be the only one recruiting. A healthy serving culture has every volunteer recruiting other volunteers.
  4. Get people plugged in quickly. Another mistake that we’ve made, and I see many other churches make is taking too long to get someone plugged in. Once someone says they want to start serving, you need to get them on a schedule within the next two weeks. There might be some exceptions, if they have to go through a background check or want to play on the worship team, for example, but in most cases, don’t wait to get them started. The longer you wait, the greater chance that they change their mind or forget all about it.
  5. Don’t give up too easily. Not everyone is going to want to serve. You’re going to get some no’s. You’re also going to get some people who say, “Let me pray about it,” which is usually a more “Christian” version of no. However, you shouldn’t take that as meaning no forever. Sometimes people are in seasons in which they can’t serve. Sometimes people don’t want to commit. There are lots of reasons people may say no. Don’t be afraid to come back to them six months to a year down the road and ask again. Many times you’ll find their answer will change.
  6. Check to make sure they’re enjoying it. One of the worst things you can do is get someone signed up to serve and then forget about them. Set up a reminder to follow up with them after the first time they serve, then again a few weeks later. Make sure it’s a good fit, and they’re enjoying it. This communicates that you care about them and gives you the opportunity to move them to another spot if they’re not. The better you care for them, the more likely they are to recruit others to volunteer.

Recruiting volunteers is an ongoing process for every pastor I know. What would you add to this list? What have you found that works? Leave a comment below, and also if you enjoy tips on leadership and growing your small town church, make sure to subscribe.

4 Ways to Make the Most of Summer

In the famous words of Olaf, “Winter’s a good time to stay in and cuddle, but put me in summer and I’ll be a – happy pastor!” I know spring is awesome because you have Easter and Mother’s Day. Fall is nice because the kids go back to school which means parents go back to church. During the winter, you have Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s Resolutions. But for me, personally, I love the summer.

If you’ve been pastoring very long, you know that ministry really never slows down, but summer seems to be the least crazy of the seasons. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to work as hard during the summer; it just means your work may look a little different than normal.

In order to maximize your summer and set yourself up to grow this fall, I would encourage you to do these 4 things.

  1. Continue to encourage your congregation to invite. Yes, your weekend attendance will more than likely be less this summer than it was this spring. People are going to take vacations and enjoy the weather. That doesn’t mean evangelism should take a vacation also. Quite the opposite. You need to continue encouraging people to invite. Families could be visiting from out of town, new people could be moving into the area, and most people have more free time during the summer than any other time of the year. So, invite them to church.
  2. Don’t be afraid to do an attractive sermon series. If you’re not already doing sermon series, you need to be. Here are four reasons why they work. Many times our tendency during the summer is to avoid attractive series because we believe our attendance is going to be down. Life.Church has proven that’s not necessarily the case. Each year they do their “At the Movies” series during the summer, and each year it’s their most attended series.
  3. Get plenty of rest. It’s hard to rest as a pastor, but it’s absolutely necessary if you’re in this for the long haul. There are around twelve Sundays between Mother’s Day and mid-August. I personally believe you should take off at least four of them. Take a couple to spend with family, and take a couple to spend visiting and learning from other churches. A friend of mine said taking a sabbatical saved his ministry. Don’t underestimate the importance of rest.
  4. Don’t cancel your small groups. I really have no business giving pastors advice on small groups because my church isn’t very good at them. We struggle to get leaders, and we struggle to get people to attend. However, some of our best small groups have happened during the summer. The days are longer, which means people have more time to get things done and more time to attend a group. One of the most popular groups getting ready to start is an ING group. They’re going to be grillING, hikING, and kayakING. Summer fun groups allow relationships to form, which hopefully will carry over to groups in the fall and spring.

I hope these four thoughts help you, and I’d love to hear your ideas. What’s worked well for you to maximize summer? Leave a comment and let us know. Also, if you love tips on leadership and church growth, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog.

15 Reasons Your Next Hire Should Be Administrative

Growing up in a small town, I had a few different ideas on what my future occupation would be. In elementary school, I wanted to be a mailman. In middle school, I wanted to be in the NBA. And in high school, I wanted to create video games. After college, somehow I ended up being unemployed, then working for a call center, then paying bills for a company, and eventually driving a truck full of explosives, which as most of you know, is a natural progression towards full-time ministry.

I actually never imagined working in ministry. Growing up in a small town with mostly smaller churches, the senior pastor was lucky to be getting paid. On rare occasions, if a church was doing well financially, they might give the youth pastor $50 a week.

But no one had ever given a thought to hiring a full-time administrator. Yet, somehow I convinced a board of elders to do just that. It probably helped that I agreed to work for almost nothing.

Since the time of my hire, the church I serve has tripled in size, we’ve made a few more hires, and we even opened a second campus.

I also got a raise and a new title, executive pastor.

The hire has worked out pretty good for the church, and I’m certainly not complaining either. I’ve been able to use the administrative gifts God has given me to make a pretty big impact on my small town.

So, I just want to encourage you to think about your next hire, or even volunteer position. Consider the value of someone who has strong administrative gifts. Someone whose strengths may be your weaknesses. Someone who can complement your leadership.

Here are just a few of the things they could do for you and your church.

  1. They can be someone you can confide in. Someone you can trust. Someone who can help bear your burdens.
  2. They can take care of ordering office supplies, cleaning supplies, coffee, creamer, sugar, trash bags, and light bulbs. The list goes on and on.
  3. They can create and update your bulletin and connection card. They can follow up with first-time guests who fill out a connection card. They can also follow up with those who want to get plugged in or take a next step.
  4. They can maintain your website and social media presence.
  5. They can count and enter contributions, send weekly thank you cards to givers, and print and mail contribution statements each year.
  6. They can encourage you and others.
  7. They can help with sermon prep.
  8. They can recruit, schedule, and train volunteers.
  9. They can pay the church bills and handle benevolence requests.
  10. They can help create the church budget and provide monthly financial statements.
  11. They can lead and equip other volunteers to use their gifts.
  12. They can answer the office phone and take messages.
  13. They can take notes during important meetings and provide them to everyone who attends.
  14. They can oversee everything that happens on the weekend, so you (the pastor) can concentrate on the sermon.
  15. They can type up your sermon notes, as long as you write so they can read it.

This list could go on and on. The bottom line is, an administrative person enjoys doing a lot of the things you hate, which frees you up to do more of the stuff you love. And if you find the right administrator and work together, you can see your church grow very quickly.

Do you currently have an administrative role at your church? In what ways has it benefited the church? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and if you ever need any help knowing what your next move should be, check out my coaching page to find out how I could serve you and your church.